Binding of transcriptional activators to a promoter is a prerequisite process in transcriptional activation. It is well established that the efficiency of activator binding to a promoter is determined by the affinity of direct interactions between the DNA-binding domain of an activator and its specific target sequences. However, I describe here that activator binding to a promoter is augmented in vivo by the effects of two other determinants that have not been generally appreciated: (i) the number of activator binding sites present in a promoter and (ii) the potency of activation domains of activators. Multiple sites within a promoter can cooperatively recruit cognate factors regardless of whether they contain an effective activation domain. This cooperativity can result in the synergistic activation of transcription. The second effect is the enhancement of activator binding to a promoter by the presence of activation domains. In this case, activation domains are not simply tethered to the promoter by the DNA-binding domain but instead assist the DNA-binding domain being tethered onto the promoter. This effect of activation domains on DNA binding is instrumental in determining how potent activators can induce steep transcriptional increases at low concentrations.